Idiomdrottning’s homepage

Generate Veins Faster

The best part of Veins of the Earth is the cave maps. I have “large scale maps” covering south western Zakhara (mostly underwater♥) and plenty of small scale maps, and those more zoomed in are mostly deterministic to generate. (Perfect for #blorb.)

The downside is that they’re also a huge time sink, especially for someone like me who can’t keep all the rules in my head at once.

So I’ve tried to split it into “what do I need to know at generation time?” and forget all the rest and just put on some beats to relax/study to and do it.

The caves

For each cave, I roll 2d6 and a d12.

I look at the d12:

Regardless if I make a circle or a rhombus, I draw the “floor and celing lines” just as in the book.

I then mark exits.

I alternate making caves and connecting them until what I have on the paper is usable or makes sense. I’ll go “wow this mess, I really need a cave around here that’s connected here”, adding or deleting routes, if I am making a cave system well in advance to be consistent with other prep and other modules. (“Paper before rock” principle.) If this is more hatpullery, on the fly stuff I need to be much more deterministic. Routes will get a lot more tangled.

For example, I might need a route to connect to another module’s dungeon map (I’ll write a reference to that map on this Veins map in a bubble or as a line off the page, instead of trying to force it into the rhombus notation). When I’m working in advance, I can do that. If I’m following the exits exactly, it can get a lot more complicated.

If the 2d6 aren’t doubles

There are as many exits as the difference between the 2d6. The biggest exit is the size of the sum of the 2d6, and then every following exit is halved that size.

Do not worry about what these means! That’s part of what was slowing me down, trying to remember what everything meant at the same time as I was trying to remember the rules for how to generate them. Once people are actually visiting the location, that’s when you can look it up in Veins pp230-231.

The entrance is where the 1 is on the closest die, the biggest exit is where the other d6’s 1 is, any other exits I determine freely (the Veins book does have a strict procedural method for them on page 226 for when you need to roll up cave systems on-the-fly, as a tier two truth).

If the 2d6 are doubles:

There is one other exit and it’s opposite the entrance. Roll 1d4:

(Make up some TSLB mnemonic to remember this. “Take Some Liquid Bravery” for example.)

The blank spaces

This and the next step is something that can wait. It can wait to the table, even. I usually do it in advance; it’s much easier than the caves and exits, and having this done makes running it it so much smoother.

I just roll a d50 and fill it in.

Two ways if you don’t have a d50: roll a d100 and if it’s over 50, subtract 50.

Or, roll 2d6 and 1d10.

If the closest d6 is a 5, ignore it and look at the farthest; if the closest is not 5, look at it and ignore the farthest; if both are 5 reroll both.

Then read the chosen d6 as the tens digit (treating 6 as zero) and the d10 as the ones digit.

I always use arabic numbers to make it clear it’s not the roman room size notation.

One such number means a living thing, two such numbers means a cave shape in a kind of stone, and three such numbers means a living thing in a cave shape in a kind of stone. Using the tables on the inside cover.

I don’t even look at ‘em! I have no idea what they’re gonna find down there.♥

Also even if you roll ‘em at the table, remember to write them on your map so you don’ forget, if the PCs revisit this area.

Note to literalists: This circle, arabic numeral notation isn’t in the book. It’s me mashing up two of its separate ideas. Instead, I think the idea is that every cave can have a shape and look rolled and noted, and that creatures separately roam around as random encounters. But I’ve found that doing it this way helps players and me to remember what happened where. “Oh, in that tiny cranny next to where we found the titanskull”.

The circles have their cardinal exits the same quadrants as the rhombi do: uppermleft, upper right, lower right or lower left. Or in the ceiling or floor.

The route lengths

I roll a d4 with a d6. If the d4 is one through three, that’s my length (ignoring the d6). If the d4 is 4, I add the dice together—if that sum is 10, I also roll a d8 and add that, and if that’s 18, I also roll a d10 etc.

(So the routes can never be exactly 4, 10, 18, 28 etc.)

I prefer ignoring dice over picking up and rolling extra dice conditionally, and this is a good compromise, where 23 times out of 24, I’m good with what I have.

The most important part

  1. Note on this small Veins map what it connects to
  2. Note on the big map which small Veins map connects there
  3. Do not misplace these papers. They are irreplacable treasures. You never know when the party decides to revisit.

It’s probably a good idea although a li’l cheaty to have a couple of spare ones with these connections left blank-but-fillable for unforseen breaches into the Veins or for when they leave the main routes. You can select one randomly and make sure to fill in what it connects to.

Also, remember that procedural stuff like this is basically all tier two material. Don’t make your entire campaign too “quantum”: If left is random and up is random and right is random and down is random, why should they even think of where to go?

You also need to put some actual cool ideas down there, things they can actually decide whether to visit or to avoid, so their choices have meaning.

Tier two truths is what makes large “go anywhere” sandbox campaigns possible; but never forget that in all that fluff, you need in a cloud bones of steel.